The two videos below have something in common.
The first is a slickly produced Dutch public service announcement (i.e. propaganda message) designed to undermine the “profiling” of Moroccans among the Dutch public.
The second contains excerpts from this morning’s remarks by President Barack Hussein Obama at the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington D.C.
What they have in common is the use of false equivalences when dealing with the issue of Islamic violence. It is a very common practice among our political and media elites to find parallels between Muslim terrorism and Christian behavior, or Jewish behavior, or Hindu behavior. As if, from a nice safe atheist point of view, all religions are roughly the same, so there’s nothing we can really do about religiously inspired violence, except maybe outlaw the practice of all religions. (Which some of them probably want to do.)
The Dutch video, which has been subtitled in English, uses false equivalences such as hair color to induce guilt and self-doubt in its audience about their shameful propensity to notice the overwhelming representation of Moroccans among those who commit criminal acts in the Netherlands. What makes this production even more ghastly is the fact that it uses the indoctrination of very young children — who are barely old enough to talk, never mind understand the bogus moral imperatives that are being thrust upon them — to make its point:
Now we turn to the President of the United States, who led the nation in prayer this morning from the Washington Hilton. His speech also abounds in false equivalences — and much more.
All the examples of religiously-motivated from current affairs violence cited by Mr. Obama involve the behavior of Muslims. No other religion is mentioned as committing violent acts today. When he segues into the (wait for it) Crusades and the Inquisition, there’s no indication that he is reaching eight and five centuries into the past, respectively, to pick out examples of violence committed in the name of Christianity. Nor is there any acknowledgement that the Crusades were defensive wars intended to recover Christian lands that had been forcibly converted to Islam centuries before during violent Muslim invasions.
Next, when Mr. Obama cites slavery and Jim Crow as Christian institutions, he is on even shakier ground. As a cursory study of the history of the mid-19th century will reveal, the most fervent Christians were also the most dedicated Abolitionists. The same was true a hundred years later during the campaign for civil rights for blacks: devout (white) Christians were among the leaders of the movement. Yes, there were occasional arguments that attempted a religious justification for the subordination of blacks, but they were made by (dare I say it?) a tiny minority of Christians.
Let’s take a look at excerpts from what Mr. Obama had to say this morning. Many thanks to Vlad Tepes for annotating and uploading this video:
The last segment of he above video catches President Obama out in what is either a statement of appalling ignorance, or an outright lie. Mr. Obama asserts: “No God condones terror.” Yet there is one god who most emphatically does condone terror. In fact, he requires it of his devotees.
Consider Koran 8:60 (Yusuf Ali translation):
Against them make ready your strength to the utmost of your power including steeds of war to strike terror into (the hearts of) the enemies of Allah and your enemies and others besides whom ye may not know but whom Allah doth know. Whatever ye shall spend in the cause of Allah shall be repaid unto you and ye shall not be treated unjustly.
Liar or ignoramus? You decide.
However, if you vote for ignoramus, remember that young Barry Soetoro attended Koran school in Indonesia, where memorizing the Koran (including 8:60) was the number one priority. Maybe little Barry played hooky those days. Or slept through the lessons.
If you watch the full video, you’ll notice several peculiar long pauses in the president’s speech. Despite the obvious presence of the teleprompters in front of him, it’s as if he occasionally forgot his part, and was listening to the transmitters in his molars tell him what to do.
For those who prefer the MSM take on Mr. Obama’s remarks, this AP article is representative.
But we also see faith being twisted and distorted, used as a wedge — or, worse, sometimes used as a weapon. From a school in Pakistan to the streets of Paris, we have seen violence and terror perpetrated by those who profess to stand up for faith, their faith, professed to stand up for Islam, but, in fact, are betraying it. We see ISIL, a brutal, vicious death cult that, in the name of religion, carries out unspeakable acts of barbarism — terrorizing religious minorities like the Yezidis, subjecting women to rape as a weapon of war, and claiming the mantle of religious authority for such actions.
We see sectarian war in Syria, the murder of Muslims and Christians in Nigeria, religious war in the Central African Republic, a rising tide of anti-Semitism and hate crimes in Europe, so often perpetrated in the name of religion.
So how do we, as people of faith, reconcile these realities — the profound good, the strength, the tenacity, the compassion and love that can flow from all of our faiths, operating alongside those who seek to hijack religious for their own murderous ends?
Humanity has been grappling with these questions throughout human history. And lest we get on our high horse and think this is unique to some other place, remember that during the Crusades and the Inquisition, people committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ. In our home country, slavery and Jim Crow all too often was justified in the name of Christ. Michelle and I returned from India — an incredible, beautiful country, full of magnificent diversity — but a place where, in past years, religious faiths of all types have, on occasion, been targeted by other peoples of faith, simply due to their heritage and their beliefs — acts of intolerance that would have shocked Gandhiji, the person who helped to liberate that nation.
So this is not unique to one group or one religion. There is a tendency in us, a sinful tendency that can pervert and distort our faith. In today’s world, when hate groups have their own Twitter accounts and bigotry can fester in hidden places in cyberspace, it can be even harder to counteract such intolerance. But God compels us to try. And in this mission, I believe there are a few principles that can guide us, particularly those of us who profess to believe.
And, first, we should start with some basic humility. I believe that the starting point of faith is some doubt — not being so full of yourself and so confident that you are right and that God speaks only to us, and doesn’t speak to others, that God only cares about us and doesn’t care about others, that somehow we alone are in possession of the truth.
Our job is not to ask that God respond to our notion of truth — our job is to be true to Him, His word, and His commandments. And we should assume humbly that we’re confused and don’t always know what we’re doing and we’re staggering and stumbling towards Him, and have some humility in that process. And that means we have to speak up against those who would misuse His name to justify oppression, or violence, or hatred with that fierce certainty. No God condones terror. No grievance justifies the taking of innocent lives, or the oppression of those who are weaker or fewer in number.